Quantcast Camera for Student Doc Filmmaker

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  1. #1
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    Jun 2013
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    Talking Camera for Student Doc Filmmaker

    Hi all! I am noob to the forum, but I would love any and all of your advice.

    I am a student filmmaker, entering my last year of college and I am looking to purchase a camcorder or dslr. I will primarily be using it to film my senior thesis film (a documentary short), but I would also like this to be a tool for personal and freelance projects this summer and in the years to come. I have a lot of experience as an editor, but not too much as a camera operator. Most of my previous films have been done using the kodak flip digital camera, but I think it is time for an upgrade. I also have experience with my Nikon D80, but this does not have video on it.

    I plan to do promotional videos, interviews, documentary projects and a music video for one of my friends. I would love a camera that records sound well (or has the ability to attach a mic) and takes clear, crisp video. It is also important to me that it has a decent sized view-finder, is user-friendly and a good camera to learn and grow with. I know these cameras come with endless features and adjustable options, so I hope that either they are easy to learn otherwise they will be wasted on me. I'm also interested in a camera that has removable lenses so that I could add fish-eye, wide-angle, or long-zoom sport type lenses if I purchased them (although I'm not sure if this is even an option...my last filming experience was using actual film strip on bolex cameras)

    Budget: ~$3000 for body, lenses and accessories. But if I am going to spend close to this much I'd like for the camera to not quickly be outdated by new technology (not sure if this is just inevitable or what)

    Thanks in advance for any and all advice!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2008
    western US
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    Default Re: Camera for Student Doc Filmmaker

    Err, don't expect a clear cut answer. With any DSLR or mirrorless body sound quality will be a challenge. Besides external microphone, there are other mods that can help with this. But for a music vid, a nice camcorder would give you an easier shot at this.

    A serious difficulty in video mode for most DSLR is Auto Focus. Canon kind of gave up here, but does provide outstanding quality image processing so long as you are happy with manual focus. If you do want to go the AF route, Panasonic GH3 and Sony SLT-A## models have the best AF reputation. The GH3 is technically not a DSLR, it is a mirrorless design. Olympus OM-D E-M5 is another very nice mirrorless design, but I'm not up to speed on its video reputation. For video DSLR vs mirrorless doesn't mean much, except fancy lenses for DSLR can be found for lower prices.

    I hope you don't expect fisheye and all the other exotic lenses in your initial budget. DSLR lenses are not cheap.

    All DSLR are fairly easy to start off on. So long as you can just ignore all the advanced settings. Of course this is easier if you have friends to help you at first.

    Kelly Cook
    Olympus PL2, Canon EOS 50D, Fujifilm F45fd, various film dinosaurs



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